Ask Josh: Clipper Storm

Meteorologist Josh Fitzpatrick answers the question, what's a "Clipper Storm?"

We weather folks love to give special names to different weather systems.  One blog reader, George, sent me a question recently: "what's a clipper storm?

A clipper storm or mostly known as Alberta Clippers is a fast moving low pressure area which generally affects the central provinces of Canada and parts of the Midwest and Great Lakes regions of the U.S.  Most clippers occur between December and February, the winter months, of course.  But they also can occur in the month of November.  Alberta clippers take their name from Alberta, Canada, the province from which they appear to descend and from clipper ships of the 19th century one of the fastest ships of that time.

Since clippers come from Canada, a cold and dry place this time of year, they don't bring much moisture with them.  They do pick up some extra moisture from the Great Lakes as they clip along to the east or southeast. 

Courtesy: The Weather Notebook

Most of our snowfalls here in our local area comes from these fast moving storm systems.  Generally they produce a 1" to 3" inch snow for the Ohio, Big Sandy and Kanawha Valleys.

Our big snow storms like the one in 1993 and 1996 do not come from the northwest, they come from the south where there's ample moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.  It's the southern storms and not the northern storms like the clippers that bring us deep snows.

So over the next several weeks snow loves, watch the northern jet stream and southern jet stream closely, (jet stream is the fast moving air currents that steer our storm systems) if they meet up, a snow storm is likely.

Stay tuned!

If you have a weather related question either e-mail me directly josh.fitzpatrick@wsaz.com or put it in a comment and I'll answer here and on my Ask Josh segment which airs during the 5 O'clock hour on WSAZ NewsChannel 3 every other Wednesday.

Thanks for reading.

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